expat


We wish you a Merry Christmas!

Here’s a picture of our little tree (less than 22 inches tall). It was purchased at Daiso for 3,000w, the silver and gold balls came in a pack for 2,000w, the candy canes are handmade, the garland is a re-purposed styrofoam pouch, the star was made using part of  a kitchen sponge, and the tree skirt is actually an artfully clipped pillow cover.

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I’ve already lamented about libraries in Seoul…just re-purposed buses or trucks.  I’d rather see an ice-cream truck (none in Korea) than a library truck on the streets and highways.

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Surprisingly I found an actual library while getting my son’s first passport at the Gangnam Community Center.  Funny, it houses a Foreigner Center (since foreigners would be drawn here) that offers information about living in Korea, local laws and culture ~ in English.

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When buying baby things I made sure to get clothes, receiving blankets, crib linens, diapers, etc.  The most frequently used are baby hankies.  Nanny-ajuma introduced them to us and says they are unique to Korea (Tip: great gift idea for expats in Korea to send overseas friends).  Baby hankies are used as napkins when the baby is eating, over the shoulder burp cloths, spit up pillow protectors, bath time washcloths, knotted at the neck as a bib, folded up to “brush” baby hair into place, and more ~ better than tissue, flannel, or terry cloth. Their uses are endless.  One can never have too many of these.  They are just the right size, cute, useful and dry quickly (essential here because everything is drip dried).

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Baby hankies are 100% cotton, they are literally handkerchiefs featuring cartoon animals.

As an American citizen of Korean descent married to a Korean National, I have two visa options:  F-4 visas are for overseas Koreans. F-2 visas are for spouses of Korean Nationals.  Each costs approximately 30,000W and requires renewal every two years.  Not sure which category to file under, I asked the immigration officer.  TIP:  F-4 visa holders may exit and enter South Korea at will. F-2 visa holders must file any overseas trips with the Seoul Immigration Office.

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We spent most of the day trying to find this building (on the outskirts of Seoul), looking for parking (lot was full and streets are one-way) and waiting for service (nearly 2 hours ~ it is said to be shorter in the morning).

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BTW: Gyopos need proper documentation of their English names along with their Korean Family Registry. This is the common problem when processing F-4 visas (e.g.: demonstrate how Kim Chul-Soo = Charles Kim).

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The comment box at the immigration office must hold more “Unkindness” than “Kindness” based on the remaining slips.

The new baby can have dual citizenship because baby mama is a U.S. citizen and baby daddy is a Korean national.  The U.S. Embassy requires a lot of evidence to convey citizenship to a baby born abroad.  We had to present my U.S. passport, the baby’s birth certificate in English and proof of my U.S. residency for a minimum of 5 years ~ something I never thought I’d need to prove.  They will accept tax returns or college transcripts.  Then there are three lengthy forms to fill out (for citizenship, for passport, for Social Security number).  A photograph of the baby with eyes open and no parental hands visible is also required.  The biggest hurdle is the time frame ~ you must gather all the documents and the entire family has to physically go to the U.S. Embassy within 30 days of the baby’s birth ~ to satisfy visa requirements.

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Tips:  * Bring your college transcript if you plan on a lengthy stay in Korea.  Employers and the U.S. Embassy will find some reason to ask for it.

* Photo of baby: set him down on a white blanket and take the picture from up above.

* Pay the delivery service fee (6,000 W) and let the packet come to your home in under 2 weeks.

* The U.S. Embassy does not accept personal checks, bring US dollars or a major credit card to pay the processing fee of $150.

The holiday season has arrived. Post Offices in Seoul offer holiday cards, which generally convey “Happy New Year.” If you’re looking for Christmas cards, head to Art Box, Morning Glory and the like. But don’t expect much variety, there are more mechanical pencil options than greeting cards in any Korean stationery store.  Believe me, I spent more than a month looking for non-existent thank you cards last year.

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Post Office Holiday Cards, orange stickers indicate “sold out.”

American citizens living overseas can vote by mail.  An internet search on your home state and county voter registration will provide you with the necessary forms to fill and and return (expat Angelinos can use this link: http://www.lavote.net/Voter/Overseas_Voter.cfm).  I haven’t missed an election yet while living in Seoul.  We may live in a different hemisphere but our opinions matter.

2008 U.S. Presidential Vote-By-Mail packet after voting.

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